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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Western Bean Cutworm Monitored in Ohio Again This Year

May 10, 2010

WOOSTER, Ohio – Ohio State University Extension entomologists will once again trap for the Western bean cutworm, a common pest of Western corn-producing states rapidly expanding eastward and finding a niche throughout the Midwest.

The adult moths were first found in Ohio in 2006 and continue to increase in numbers.

"In 2006, we caught three moths in the traps. In 2007, we caught six. In 2008, that number increased to 150. Last year, the number of adult moths caught in roughly the same number of traps jumped to 550," said Andy Michel, an OSU Extension entomologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "We didn't find any eggs. We found one larvae and one ear of corn with very minimal damage."

The data suggests that Western bean cutworm will continue to spread across Ohio and increased feeding damage is likely. The larvae mainly feed on the corn ears, nibbling on the tips and boring into the middle of the ear, impacting kernel quality and affecting yields. Feeding damage can also create opportunities for disease development.

"Indiana saw damage in 2005 with economic damage following shortly thereafter. In Michigan, the first damage was found in 2007 and economic damage occurred in 2008. In Ontario, Canada, the first moth was caught in 2008, and the first damage was found last year," said Michel. "Significant damage hasn't been found yet in Ohio, but we know it's coming. All the data suggests we'll see some level of damage soon and will most likely first occur in northwest Ohio."

Western bean cutworm moths emerge in Ohio as early as June with peak flight around mid-July. The adult moths lay eggs on corn plants with the larvae hatching out in mid-August and developing through September. They mainly feed on the corn ears, drop from plant in the fall, overwinter in the soil and emerge as adult moths again the following spring.

Michel and his colleagues will be trapping for adult moths and scouting for eggs and feeding damage throughout the growing season.

"We are visiting fields again where suspected damage might occur, and intensifying our scouting efforts for eggs," said Michel. "In addition, we'll be adding more traps in new counties, especially in the northwest and northeast portions of Ohio."

Michel said that the data collected will be used to develop management techniques to accurately identify, scout and control the pest.

"We know it's here. We know it's migrating. We need to develop management tactics," said Michel. "We are responding to what the growers want, and they want to know where it is and how to control it."

For more information on the Western bean cutworm, log on to and visit the links under "Corn."

Candace Pollock
Andy Michel